Saturday, May 17, 2014

John White Translated

Everything John White tells us in print or in person has a definite purpose. But often you need to translate "White speak" to get his true intent or meaning. Let me translate just a few paragraphs from a recent White memo to local education leaders:

White states: "Our state's educators, families, and children have accepted the great challenge of raising expectations for learning in our schools. Louisiana's children are just as smart and capable as any in America, and together we have committed to educating them to a standard as high as anywhere in our country."

Translation: "I don't really care if many families have not accepted the challenge of raising expectations for learning, but I intend to hold local educators responsible if the students do not all perform to the level I have dictated. Furthermore, I have no idea whether or not Louisiana's children are just as smart and capable as any in America, but by stating this assumption, it allows me to blame educators if our students do not perform as well as students in other states."

White states: "As you know, the state has long committed that Louisiana will not unfairly humiliate educators, denigrate schools, or punish students as we make this transition. You can find a summary of the state's transition policies here, including policies regarding 4th grade promotion and the Transitional 9th grade, an important opportunity to address immediately the learning needs of struggling students."

Translation: "As I have demonstrated many times before, it is my policy to humiliate impoverished school communities by imposing an unfair school grading policy that only tells us the level of poverty of the children attending a particular school and nothing about the heroic efforts of the teachers and administrators at a school to help students succeed in life. I fully intend to continue punishing teachers and administrators who do not spend every moment possible in rehearsing kids for these stupid standardized tests we have imposed upon our educational system. I really don't care if all the joy of teaching and learning is destroyed in the process. Also, now you will be expected to promote all students from 4th to 5th grade and from 8th to 9th grade even though they have learned almost nothing, and your teachers will still be expected to "make" them achieve at average or above grade level."

White states: "In recent years, the Department has released these results May 17 or 18. This year you will be able to access individual student results in the secure LEAP Web portal Tuesday evening, May 20.  Instructions will be in Tuesday's weekly newsletter.

Translation: "My staff has not yet finished tinkering with the results of the testing to achieve the result I directed them to get, so it will be a few more days before you get our doctored results of the testing."  

With a little practice we can all learn to translate "White speak".

Friday, May 16, 2014

HB 703 Rejected by Senate Education Committee

The Senate Education Committee ignored the concerns of all the major public school stakeholders and sided with the charter school managers and other haters of public schools in killing HB 703. As I explained in previous posts, HB 703 would have prevented the proliferation of preadatory charters throughout the state. These are charter schools that are doing serious damage to our public education system and at the  the same time destroying the education profession.

Every single member of the Senate Education committee made it very clear that they are in favor of more charter schools even if it is to the determent of our public school systems. The president of the Lafayette Parish school board explained to the committee how the addition of several predatory charter schools in Lafayette Parish, (a "B" rated school system) by BESE over the objection of the local school board this past year proves this point. Instead of setting up in the part of town serving high poverty students, where school performance scores are low, the new charters specifically located where they could try to attract some of the highest performing students of the Lafayette Parish system. When these schools get operating they systematically remove students who are discipline problems and the lowest performers and dump them back into the public school system. Basically they cream the best students in order to insure that they will receive a high school performance score. Meanwhile the performance score for the public school system goes down as they are forced to take the rejects from the predatory charters.

These predatory charter schools hire the cheapest teachers possible including persons that have not received an education degree and they often do not participate in the teacher retirement system. By avoiding the teacher retirement system the predatory charters save millions of dollars in cost that is now being asessed by our legislature to regular public school systems to pay down the unfunded liability of our retirement systems. Let's be clear. The legislature created the unfunded liability over many years by paying high benefits to many special groups and individuals (not to regular teachers) and now they are requiring the local school boards to pick up the tab to the tune of 31.5% of payroll. Yet the legislature has specificially exempted charter schools from this cost!

As such charter schools increase, a bigger and bigger burden is placed on our public schools until someday the cost to run any real public school may be prohibitive. But here's the real atrocity being perpetrated on the taxpayers and dedicated educators of our state: None of these charters have been shown to improve student performance over what they would have performed anyway. My latest analysis of the Louisiana Recovery District which is composed almost 100% of charter schools is that they perform at the 27th percentile compared to all the school systems in the state.  There is also evidence that many of these schools are grossly under reporting their student dropout rate. (The New Orleans RSD regularly "loses" about half its students on the way to graduation)

How can we the taxpayers continue to expand such a destructive system? Very simple, the charter management companies are using some of the money they save in operating costs by shortchanging our retirement system to make big contributions to the governor, BESE, and the same legislators who are slowly dismantling public education. They are gradually buying their way (using our tax dollars) into the destruction of public education.

If you want to see what education will be like in Louisiana if this trend continues just read up on the education system of Chile where 100% of the schools have been privatized. The politicians of Chile have succeeded in completely stratifying the education system in Chile into the haves and the have-nots with privateers making off with the tax dollars. This is where we are headed in Louisiana!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Please Send emails to Senate Education Committee in Support of HB 703

House bill 703 which is an effort to prevent the proliferation of predatory charter schools is scheduled to be debated this week in the Senate Education Committee. If you have a Senator who is a member of the Education Committee, please send him an email now asking that he vote "yes" for HB 703. Click here for a good explanation of HB 703.
Here is a link to a web site put together by  One Community One School District  where you can send an email to all of the Senate Committee members at once:

If you live in the Baton Rouge area, I am also suggesting that you sign the petition by One Community One School District opposing the bills that would reorganize the Baton Rouge school system. This legislation is just an attempt by the Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce to gain total control of the East Baton Rouge Parish School system. These folks don't have a clue about how to operate a school system, but they are determined to take if over and convert it into charter schools. Here is the petition:

If you prefer to send your own email to members of the Senate Education Committee without reference to any one group, I am including the contact information for each of the Committee members: Note the following is a sample email you may want to use in support of HB 703.

Dear ______________,
I am a public school teacher (principal, parent, citizen) who lives in your district. I am requesting that you vote “yes” for HB 703. This bill is very important to maintaining local control of public education. It would prevent BESE from overruling our local school boards in the approval of charter schools. I believe that only the local voters acting through their local school boards should determine the course of education in our parish.
Senator Conrad Appel,,
District office phone: 866-946-3133
Capitol Phone 225-342-2040
Legislative Assistant: Patsy Green

Senator Eric LaFleur,
District office phone: 337-363-5019
Capitol Phone: 225-342-2040
Legislative assistant: Deborah Lawson

Senator Dan Claitor,
District office phone: 225-765-0206
Capitol phone: 225-342-2040
Legislative assistant: Sharon Hattier

Senator Jack Donahue, email:
District office phone: 985-727-7949
Capitol phone: 225-342-2040
Legislative assistant: Michelle Pichon

Senator Elbert Guillory, email:
District office phone: 337-943-2457
Capitol phone: 225-342-2040
Legislative assistant: Tammy Babineaux

Senator Mike Walsworth, email:
District office phone: 318-340-6453
Capitol phone: 225-342-2040
Legislative assistant: Angela Robert

Senator Mack “Bodi”White, email:
District office phone: 225-272-1324
Capitol phone: 225-342-2040
Legislative assistant: Stacie Butler